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the journal news and gawker media pull a commercial appeal

Not having a dog in this particular fight, I can only sit back and laugh at how quickly The Journal News and now Gawker Media are realizing that private American citizens enjoy their… well, privacy. Extra bonus points got to Gawker for labeling all firearm-owning New Yorkers as "Assholes" – way to make friends and influence people, especially in New York.

On the one hand, a fair argument could be made that these lists endanger firearm owners – after all, firearms are high-value items that are typically useful to criminals for a variety of reasons, and The Journal News and Gawker just provided those criminals with a shopping list of locations where firearms are stored.

On the other hand, a fair argument could be made that these lists endanger folks who do not own firearms – after all, criminals generally like breathing (shocking, I know), and may avoid homes where they are likely to be shot, instead hitting up homes they know are disarmed and defenseless.

On the gripping hand, absolutely no argument could be made that publishing these lists was necessary or good, or that any good could come of doing so. Just replace "firearm owner" with "blacks" or "gays" or "Jews" and tell me all the good that can come of those lists.

What is that you are saying? Neither Gawker nor The Journal News published addresses? So? Using nothing more than their first and last names, I was able to dig up home addresses, phone numbers, and home property tax information on the entire staff of the Commercial Appeal, a newspaper here in Tennessee that oh-so-very-kindly published a searchable database of handgun carry permit holders. Put I had to pay money to pull up all that information, right? Wrong. All of that information is publicly available on the internet, through free sources, and required nothing more than first and last names to begin searching.

So to John Cook, the editor of Gawker, who is whining about people posting his address, I can only say, "Suck it up, you privacy-invading wanker."

Speaking of the Commercial Appeal, though, I guess I should look into updating its database, since the information there is nearly four years out of date.

In the intervening years, of course, they have had a little turnover in their staff. Most notably, Joseph Pepe and Karl Wurzbach appear to have been fired (could not happen to nicer people), but, since the original handgun carry permit database was posted and maintained during their watch, their names will remain in this counter-database, as will all of the names of folks employed at CA during that period. In fact, Stephen Tomb is about the only "Vice President" to survive whatever culling the Commercial Appeal went through recently, and no one has stepped up (or been allowed to step up) to fill Joseph’s and Karl’s now-empty positions. One can only hope the bird cage liner newspaper is slowly augering its way into oblivion.

Likewise, people, like Otis Sanford, have moved; their addresses and information have been appropriately updated.

Joseph Pepe, Former President and Publisher
3195 Wetherby Cv S
Germantown, TN 38139

901-737-8784
Home Property Tax Information

Stephen M. Tomb, VP of Operations
1846 Wildcreek Cv
Collierville, TN 38017

Phone Unpublished
Home Property Tax Information

Chris C. Peck, Editor
21 Belleair Dr
Memphis, TN 38104

901-276-8314
Home Property Tax Information

Otis Sanford, Former Editor/Opinion & Editorials, Current "Free-Lance Columnist"
3094 Flint Drive
Memphis, TN 38115

901-368-5599
Home Property Tax Information

Eric Janssen, Former VP of Digital Media
8996 Stratfield Cv
Germantown, TN 38139

901-358-7007, Home
901-212-3597, Cell
Home Property Tax Information

Michael B. Erskine, Director of Digital Media
1898 Parkview Cv
Memphis, TN 38104-7634

901-274-2571, Home
Home Property Tax Information

Scott Sines, Former Managing Editor
2136 Wentworth Ln
Germantown, TN 38139

Phone Unpublished
Home Property Tax Information

Louis E. Graham, Managing Editor
228 Rhonda Cir E
Cordova, TN 38018-4326

Phone Unpublished
Home Property Tax Information

Gary L. Robinson, Managing Editor, Digital
Current information unknown.

Daniel R. Moehle, Former VP/Chief Financial Officer
3172 Devonshire Way
Germantown, TN 38139

901-757-5911
Home Property Tax Information

Karl D. Wurzbach, Former VP of Sales and Marketing
3098 Bentwood Run Dr
Collierville, TN 38017

901-853-4892
Home Property Tax Information

Robert Jiranek, Former VP of New Business Development
400 Forest Ridge Road
Earlysville, VA 22936-9218

434-202-1724

Robert L. Pinarski, Former Advertising Director
3961 Herons Landing Ln
Arlington, TN 38002

901-867-5294
Home Property Tax Information

Denise Holman, Former Manager of Classified Advertising
Current address/information unknown.

Paul A. Jewell, Marketing Director
1439 Vance Ave
Memphis, TN 38104

901-272-1458
Home Property Tax Information

(NOTE: Gary L. Robinson seems like the only one who keeps all his information private.)

Again, I stress that all of this information was put together from free, public sources using nothing but the above persons’ first and last names (and a healthy bit of guesswork) as a starting point. If I can assemble that much data on these folks in just a few minutes, how much do you think a dedicated stalker or identity thief can put together?

And as a final point regarding these various and sundry assholes publishing the information of who owns or carries firearms in their respective states, I give you this quote from Gawker commenter "K-leigh" (link intentionally omitted):

The journal posted my address and name for my gun ownership. My past stalker saw this. I haven’t heard from him in two years, because I disappeared. Now he is back and calling me……thanks to people like you bunch of assholes, looks like I will have to protect myself from becoming a murder victim. Gracias.

Whether or not her story is true is somewhat immaterial; the point stands. Numerous people own firearms precisely because of past negative experiences, and lists like these only serve to facilitate those who inflicted negative experiences on others – stalkers, abusers, etc. Once again, the list works both ways – it can help stalkers find old prey, but it can also help stalkers learn their current or past prey is unarmed.

And lest you think I am exaggerating:

Law enforcement officials from a New York region where a local paper published a map identifying gun owners say prisoners are using the information to intimidate guards.

Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco, who spoke at a news conference flanked by other county officials, said the Journal News’ decision to post an online map of names and addresses of handgun owners Dec. 23 has put law enforcement officers in danger.

"They have inmates coming up to them and telling them exactly where they live. That’s not acceptable to me," Falco said, according to Newsday.

When even the Only Ones, and New York’s Only Ones at that, think you did something stupid… well…

Flagrantly violating hundreds of thousands (millions?) of law-abiding citizens’ privacy and security serves no rational purpose to anyone this side of the law, and I cannot say as though I am terribly fond of those who aid and abet criminals. It could be argued, I suppose, that I am doing exactly the same thing right now, but if those folks listed above believe one’s personal information should be made public on account of lawfully exercising one’s Constitutionally-protected rights… well, I am merely assisting them in fulfilling their desires, am I not? If it is good for one right protected by one Amendment, it is good for another right protected by another Amendment.

Don’t start nothin'; won’t be nothin’.

8 comments to the journal news and gawker media pull a commercial appeal

  • Matt in FL

    One of my favorite things about the Florida Concealed Weapon statutes (other than their very existence) is 790.0601, which states:

    (1) Personal identifying information of an individual who has applied for or received a license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm pursuant to s. 790.06 held by the Division of Licensing of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution. This exemption applies to such information held by the division before, on, or after the effective date of this section.

    For the record, s. 119.07(1) says (and the State Constitution has similar language):

    (a) Every person who has custody of a public record shall permit the record to be inspected and copied by any person desiring to do so, at any reasonable time, under reasonable conditions, and under supervision by the custodian of the public records.

    There aren’t any penalties specified for disclosure, you could at least sue for injunction to have it removed after the fact, and whoever the publishing entity got it from would be in a world of hurt.

  • I’m so freakin’ glad I left NY….

  • Again, I stress that all of this information was put together from free, public sources using nothing but the above persons’ first and last names (and a healthy bit of guesswork) as a starting point.

    I do this occasionally as part of my job, and it really is frightening what you can find. Considering that it would be absurdly easy for someone to be sure a record was mine if they were looking for me (there are exactly 3 people in Virginia with my last name, and the other 2 are my parents), the fact that the office I work in is involved in divorce and child custody cases, and the fact that my volunteer job makes me a mandatory reporter for any suspected child abuse, I don’t want any more information plastered all over the papers, too. It’s already too easy for people I don’t know to find me.

  • Longbeardeast

    I wasn’t sure whether to comment or email you, but I can assure you that the “Gary L. Robinson” you have listed, does not work at the Commercial Appeal, and never has. However, he does make a commute just as long.

  • @ Matt in FL: Unfortunately, Tennessee’s legislature is too concerned about being able to send HCP holders political propaganda to go to the efforts of making the lists in any way private, even to the point of Florida’s legislation. Literally. That was the excuse fielded by the Republicans a few years ago.

    @ Dragon: Oh, do not worry – your information is in the Commercial Appeal’s database. Welcome to TN!

    @ Jake: I used a grand total of four sites to put together the information on all of those people, assuming one treats “Google” and “Google Maps” as two separate sites. All of them are free, all of them are public, and all of them have an astonishing amount of information in them.

    @ Longbeardeast: As I said in an email to you, I do not mean to sound confrontational, but how might you so definitively know this? In looking at the Shelby County Assessor’s site (probably should have cross-checked there first), there is a Gary L. Robinson who lives in Arlington – is that a better fit?

    Unfortunately, this is the danger of putting people’s information online – innocent folks get caught in the crossfire.

  • longbeardeast

    Arlington may very well be the correct address. I don’t keep up with the rag, as I have viewed the “print” journalists as a lower form of pond scum than the TV journalist wannabe’s. Arlington is about 25 miles from downtown Memphrica, so it’ a possible fit. As I stated in my email to you however, I can swear on my life that the first listing was not “that” Gary Robinson”. Keep up the good work.

  • Fair enough :). Just wanted to make sure you were not the CA Gary Robinson trying to bury his information.

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